Judicial Activism?

Today the SCOTUS ruled 5-4 that the New Haven White firefighters were discriminated against by being denied promotions based on valid test results.

Justice Kennedy writes for the majority,

“The 5-4 decision clarifies the federal job-discrimination laws for employers, both private and public, and it says that the primary goal of the Civil Rights Act is to remove race as a factor in hiring and promotions.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-firefighters-court30-2009jun30,0,7447179.story

So that’s the ruling, and I happen to agree with it. It supports the Civil Rights Act.

I driving down the road listening to NPR break the news. They immediately follow it up with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who says “it’s the worst example of judicial activism that he has ever seen.”  Ya know it really doesn’t matter if this guy was Mahatma Gandhi or Ellwood P Suggs, it is clearly biased commentary.

NPR states on their WEB Page that as a public service they are ethically bound to be unbiased.

 “Unbiased” means that we separate our personal opinions – such as an individual’s religious beliefs or political ideology – from the subjects we are covering. We do not approach any coverage with overt or hidden agendas.”

Know what? They are liars. They could have selected from hundreds of SME’s to comment on this ruling and the one they selected came on with both guns blazing just hours after it was announced. Just happened to be available too, nice and coincidental like.

This is a blinding example of what feeds the growing hostility between conservatives and liberals. PBS hides behind other people’s skirts to attack and discredit just like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et all….they are just more deceptive and duplicitous about it. At least the right talk radio is straight up about what they are saying and don’t pretend to be unbiased. Liberals ridicule the talk right and giggle at the clever lies NPR spins under the banner of “responsible journalism.”

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7 Responses

  1. These 5-4 rulings show there is little consensus on the issue, unlike say the 8-1 ruling on the strip searching of that 13 year old. The only one who did not side with the 8 was…Clarence Thomas. Probably one of the few times he did not vote with Scalia. And I’m surprised Scalia went with the majority.

    I’d be interested in what the “test” was. Had it been “validated” as a predictor of job performance? If not, *that* should have been the focus of the promotion dispute by the minorities. Now the basis for promoting the minorities is another issue. If it was solely to get some minorities, that I don’t agree with.

    The definition of “qualified” is not an easy one to make in any situation, as I think I showed in my post that Lincoln was the least “qualified” (experience) of the four candidates for President in 1860. Yet, he turned out to be better than his credentials would suggest.

  2. I think that this is a horrible ruling. I still fail to see how a written test is relevant to being a firefighter. See fire, point hose at it.

  3. EE The issue of whether or not a written test is appropriate is not the issue in this ruling although if you had to depend on the guy behind you to recognize hazards to your personal safety inside a burning building you might reconsider.

    I believe the issue here is quite simple. If the numbers were reversed and 20 black firefighters had been denied promotional consideration because whites scored poorly would it have been discrimination?

  4. I still say that a test doesn’t prepare you for the conditions of what’s inside a burning building. Recognizing hazards would have been covered in the initial training.

    I don’t like discrimination of any kind and I can’t speak to the study habits of the black firefighters but I find something incredibly wrong with the results of the test. Was it written in a way that was culturally unfair to the black firemen?

    We know that civil service examinations in the past have been proven to be culturally biased. But in finding for the white firefighters, the SCOTUS has taken away the cities right to determine what is best for its own department.

  5. EE This test is a promotional test, not a test to determine fire fighting aptitude…….it was given to firefighters to rank them for promotion. New Haven followed best practices across the country and paid a company to design and validate the test. The company offered written substantiation on the test’s validity which for some strange reason appears to have been ignored (except by a competing company).

    The courts ruling simply follows the Civil Rights title VII guidelines that says race & gender should not be a factor in employment decisions. Clearly race was the reason the top scorers were not promoted, it was unfair. Even Ginsburg said so in dissent.

    Again, if the situation were reversed it would have been just as obviously discriminatory.

  6. I understand what you are saying. However, being an ex military man I know that tests are not the sole answer to promotion which is why they are only a component of the military promotion system.

    The test does count but so does your APR’s (airmen performance ratings) and the recommendations of your commanding officers.

    I read a WSJ report considering the fairness of the test and it appears that the test for practical purposes was fair. And for the record, I do not think that the brightest people apply to become fire or policemen.

  7. Here is a really interesting article from the NYTimes about the lone Hispanic firefighter who joined the suit.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/nyregion/03firefighter.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=white%20firefighters%20suit&st=cse

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